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TRITEC brings “Light for Education”

Swiss photovoltaics specialist starts solar aid project in Madagascar.

European operator TRITEC International AG headquartered in Allschwil is set to install 10 autonomous PV systems for solar power generation in Madagascar by 2012. As a result, schools, hospital wards and community halls in two villages in the south of the island will be supplied with clean solar energy. The project will effectively aid education and help provide independent energy supplies and job security.

Rich island paradise, poor country

Madagascar is a rich country – at least in terms of its biodiversity, which is second to none in the world. Its economic reality and energy policy, however, paint an altogether different picture: energy is generated from coal, the wood for it is supplied through excessive deforestation of the rain forest. Electricity is produced using diesel generators, which are operated using expensive fuel shipped into the settlements. Oil lamps that provide the light cause soot to blacken the housings and penetrate deep into people’s lungs.

Swiss photovoltaics specialist starts solar aid project in Madagascar.

International cooperation

The Solar Power Project launched under the name “Light for Education” was initiated by TRITEC as early as in 2009. It is implemented and supported in cooperation with the interdepartmental platform, Swiss Renewable Energy Promotion in International Cooperation (REPIC), and the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ). The solar modules are sponsored by German solar module producer Solarworld. The professional design, installation and operation of the solar systems is handled by a local solar system fitter with training and instructions provided by TRITEC. The aim is to build solar systems that will eventually run autonomously. TRITEC will monitor the autonomous power generation locally every two years to ensure ongoing operation.

Solar power as alternative and a brighter future

In Madagascar night falls at six o’clock, as if someone had switched off the sun. The onset of darkness brings to an end practically any and all social activity in the two villages Ankilimalinike and Mahababoke. Destitute, rural areas in the country are not connected to a power grid. As a result these areas face depopulation with villagers migrating into larger cities. Here, they neither find jobs though, nor prospects of a better future; this is made worse by the fact that they will have lost their social structure. Thanks to the “Light for Education” project, this migration can somewhat be curtailed, as the villagers are given brighter prospects through autonomous power generation: light for general and further education in schools, for joint working and social activities in village halls, and power for computers and medical equipment in hospital wards.

Swiss photovoltaics specialist starts solar aid project in Madagascar.

Generating power where it’s needed

A major advantage of solar power is that it can be generated right where it’s needed – and it could not be any easier: A solar module catches the abundant sunlight in Madagascar and converts it into electrical energy. The power thus generated can be used throughout the day to keep medicine cool or to operate medical equipment and computers, to name but a few examples; but it can also be stored. The “Light for Education” project ensures that solar modules are installed directly on school roofs and village halls, but it also provides ecological street lighting and sets up solar power petrol stations where batteries can be recharged.

The start of a new beginning

The systems will be operated by the local solar installation company, the consumer in each case will be the local authority. Installation and system components will not cost the residents anything. They will only be charged for the use of electricity. The electricity costs are comparable to the price of coal or oil with the same energy value. Solar projects such as these could set a precedent and pave the way into a sunny future. Not only would this be a boon to the country and its residents – it would also be an effective approach to maintaining Madagascar’s biodiversity, which is second to none in the world.